Objectives Psychologists are trained to deal with complex and challenging situations. Yet, doing ‘people work’ may tax the psychologists’ own wellbeing and spill over to the private sphere. Accordingly, this study examined the association between perceived workload and work-to-life conflict.
Methods Authorised Swedish psychologists (N = 2518), in permanent employment and working at least 50% of full time, were included. Of these, 1910 were women and 608 men and their mean age was 46 years (SD 11 years). All were responders to a cross-sectional survey with a response rate of 48% (N = 3240). A workload index score was created (range 0–4) by calculating the sum score of four dichotomized items on which responding “Weekly to daily” was indicative of high workload. The questions pertained to uneven workload, problems with completing work tasks, getting behind and lacking time. Four single items assessed either time-based or strain-based work-to-life conflict (dichotomized into “poor” or “good”).
Results Although 36% reported no work-to-family conflict at all, 11% acknowledged conflict on all four items. Age and gender adjusted logistic regression analysis indicated positive associations between workload and all work-to-family conflict indicators, that is, work draining too much energy from private life (OR = 1.55, 95 CI = 1.44–1.66, p < 0.001), work-problems rendering irritation at home (OR = 1.41, 95 CI = 1.31–1.52, p < 0.001), constant thoughts on work hindering relaxing at free time (OR = 1.48, 95 CI = 1.37–1.59, p < 0.001), and problems sleeping due to constant thoughts on work (OR = 1.41, 95 CI = 1.30–1.54, p < 0.001). Females had higher prevalence odds on all four items (OR’s between 1.26 and 1.72).
Conclusion Circa 2/3 of the Swedish psychologists had problems with work-to-life conflict (1/10 had extensive problems). The positive associations between workload and work-to-life conflict suggest that psychologists’ wellbeing and private life may benefit from workload-oriented interventions.
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